Fan Tokens Coming to MLS

Professional sports clubs and organizations continually look to extend their marketing reach and connection with their supporters and raise funds to build their foundations for future success.

Recently, one of the newer methods being utilized to do this in the industry is the introduction of the fan token. This latest form of cryptocurrency is coming into Major League Soccer, and that means it could well be something that we soon see heading in the direction of Florida’s MLS franchises, Inter Miami and Orlando City.

These non-expiring digital tokens can be bought by fans to give them exclusive access to votes on club matters, from choosing the music played after goals are scored to the naming of training facilities. Also, fans purchasing them will earn loyalty points. These points and token ownership then unlock eligibility for exclusive promotions such as personal calls from players, stadium tours, and more. The tokens are bringing supporters closer than ever to their clubs and their heroes, as each purchase raises funds for the organizations, as they earn 50% of every token purchased by the supporters.

It’s taken time for them to surface here in the States, although they’ve been recently adopted by the UFC and NHL, too, as the first club to take up the option was the New Jersey Devils. But the latest news is that they’ve been made available in the NFL as the company tied up a deal with the New England Patriots and the New England Revolution in the MLS as part of a $50million expansion plan from the initiative of the scheme, Chilliz. The concept of a fan token is fairly new here in the U.S. They are popular in Europe, where several major soccer clubs have embraced the idea. Italian giants, Juventus, and Premier League clubs Manchester City, Arsenal and Everton are already utilizing the tokens to connect with supporters.

It’s working too, as fans have been eagerly snapping up the tokens, as demonstrated by another club that has taken the fan token model to their supporters, AC Milan. Milan’s Chief Revenue Officer, Casper Stylsvig, admitted they it added a real stimulus to their finances as they earned more than $6million in new digital revenue within hours of making the new fan tokens available to supporters of the Rossoneri.

But it’s not just the clubs who have an interest in the crypto market too. When Lionel Messi moved to PSG in France last summer, the now 7-time Ballon d’Or winner agreed to have much of his signing on fee paid in fan tokens by his new employers, proving their growing influence in European football. The currency, which can rise and fall in value, rose over 300% ahead of the best player in world soccer moving to the French capital, meaning that Messi profited more from the move than he initially expected due to the fan-funded platform.

The move from the MLS to introduce the sport to the digital currency isn’t a new initiative, as Inter Miami led the way by striking up a deal with Crypto finance firm XBTO in September. The company is now prominently placed as the front of shirt sponsor for the club from the DRV PNK Stadium, which was the first of its kind in U.S. professional soccer.

Inter Miami’s CF CEO and Managing Owner, Jorge Mas, told the club’s official website he’s looking to the future with the partnership. “We have found in XBTO a partner that thinks like we do; thinking towards the future of how they change the world of finance through their platform in the crypto space, how we impact the South Florida community, how we impact the fans, how we engage with our community and how we change the landscape of how Inter Miami and our fanbase communicate.”

Members of the current Inter playing staff are excited by the development too, as English defender Kieran Gibbs is well aware of the benefits of crypto, he said: “Cryptofinance is a space that I’ve been watching closely for a number of years now, so it’s exciting that XBTO partnered with the club that I’m playing for.”

CNBC has recently reported that 1 in 10 people across the U.S. invests in one of the many denominations of digital assets. Their highly secure structure and ease of transfer are cited as reasons for this. It all just highlights that cryptocurrencies are a real hot topic right now. To see crypto come to sport in the country in the form of fan tokens and sponsorships points to an exciting time for the industry; it’s become something that is aligned to the wants and needs of people in popular culture. No matter if it’s to raise funds, earn money, or bring people closer to the players they see take to the field for 90 minutes every other weekend.

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